Time flies by its very nature but especially fast while looking at progress and obsoletion of computers. It’s pretty hard for me to make peace with the fact that the computer I’ve been using as the center of my musical work was originally put together about nine years ago. This is a whole eternity in the computer world; however in the real one things are a bit different. Personally, I’m one of those who’re wilfully accepting always limited budget in order to preserve their personal freedom. While this often brings numerous frustrations, it also stimulates creativity and resourcefulness. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.
Currently, I’m in the process of building a new DAW PC system, which I hope will serve me well in the years to come. I believe that the gear mustn’t stand in the way of creativity and productivity. Naturally, this assumes the incline toward possessing as powerful and capable tools as possible, but you also have to face the reality. Not everyone has the luxury and privilege to follow technological let alone trends imposed by fashion, nor this should be the end goal. The goal is to feel inspired and unbounded in your work while coping with the limitations imposed by financial and other factors.
Composition and music production is likely one of the most demanding disciplines when talking about necessary computer equipment. From my own personal perspective, this brings numerous dilemmas right from the start. Of course, in this world, many would promptly think Apple or various brand-name PC configurations. Unfortunately, this is simply not feasible for me, so for the past twenty years I rely on the DIY approach when building a PC system. This certainly brings a sense of fulfillment and personal satisfaction, but also as many frustrations and tedium.
To plan and build the optimal PC configuration for demanding usage with a limited budget is not an easy and thankful task. You always have to sacrifice something; most often the components which seemingly have less impact on the raw computing power of the system. In my newest case, this was a computer chassis. Of course, the attempt to cut the budget in this department had caused me quite a struggle while trying to put everything together inside a limited enclosure. I’m also a big fan of aesthetics, so the final appearance of the finished product is a very important for me as well as the internal structure. Although I’ve managed to accomplish this to a certain degree, using a more expensive PC case would definitely help even more. However, the grand total is unfortunately doing its thing.
The other factor concerning the price is leaving enough options for future upgrades of the system. For example, at the moment I was able to purchase half of the max and probably optimal 64 GB of RAM, but at the same time I’ve left this option for future and more opportune time. Also, I was forced to skip buying a larger capacity version of one SSD disk albeit “going into red” on the current one.
I think that while doing any investment of a technical nature one should restrain from following the trends and especially myths as much as possible. While it's important to be familiar with certain standards and to study various equipment tests online, all this should be taken cum grano salis. For example, in the world of music production, computers from Apple are most often the first choice for those able to afford them. But does this mean that you can’t be as productive and effective with a suitable PC system? Absolutely not. The reason behind the obvious “dominance” of Apple in this field among other things lies in a tradition; historically speaking, their computers were the first ones to get MIDI and audio interfaces, making them more “musician friendly” out-of-the-box. A similar story is with an often mentioned dilemma: Intel vs AMD? Both manufacturers and their products have their specific advantages and disadvantages, but the difference in a real world usage isn’t as drastic as it seems on paper.
In any case, moving to a new computer always brings a big excitement but also a lot of hardship and trouble, especially if you’re going DIY style. But this is still likely the most effective way to satisfy your particular needs while staying within the necessary limits.